Animal rescue incident serves as warning

Emergency medical personnel and staff from the Pagosa Fire Protection District launched a daunting cold water rescue on Lake Hatcher Feb. 7, when two dogs inadvertently fell through the ice near one of the lakes aerators.

According to Archuleta County Animal Control Supervisor Chris Crump, nearby residents spotted a weimaraner and labradoodle clinging to the edge of the ice and called the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Department dispatch center.

Crump said fire rescue crews and emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene before him, and when he arrived, rescuers had already donned dry suits and entered the water to rescue the dogs.

The Weimaraner, Crump said, was brought to shore where Crump rubbed it dry with a blanket until it regained use of its hind legs. The labradoodle however, arrived on shore unconscious, and despite cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other emergency medical efforts, the dog did not survive.

“In the EMS ambulance, an intubations breathing tube was inserted in the dog, and chest compressions continued for several minutes in an attempt to resuscitate the animal. Although the dog was eventually pronounced dead, the effort put forward by all involved, was exceptional,” Crump said.

According to Crump, high snow allowed the dogs to walk over a fence that typically kept them well contained.

Archuleta County Undersheriff and Public Information Officer John Weiss said the same precautions that should be taken with children around the area’s frozen lakes, apply to dogs as well.

“Fresh snow can make certain spot look safe when they actually aren’t. Always assume ice is unsafe and take proper precautions,” Weiss said.

In addition, fences that typically keep dogs penned can become easily surmountable, particularly later in the winter, as the powder packs and hardens and dogs can easily walk across it without sinking.

In addition to keeping pets leashed near frozen lakes and rivers, Weiss also emphatically called for parents to keep close watch on their children in the same areas, in order to avoid tragedy.

In the event a dog inadvertently escapes from its yard or kennel area, Weiss said animal control should be called right away.

“Animal control, EMS, fire, were all here to help” Weiss said.